Brewers making lefty relievers a priority

December 3, 2012

> The Brewers went a long time without announcing it publicly, but we all knew left-handed relief pitching was a necessity for the Brewers coming into this offseason. In fact, getting an established, healthy lefty for the bullpen has been a huge issue for the Brewers ever since early 2011. Going into that season, the Brewers thought they were going to have Zach Braddock, Manny Parra, and Mitch Stetter as left-handed options out of the ‘pen, but injuries (and personal issues, in Braddock’s case) plagued all of them. Parra missed all of 2011, Stetter had season-ending hip surgery early on, and Braddock never quite regained his 2010 form. So, for their playoff run in 2011, the Brewers went without a lefty arm out of the ‘pen (until the postseason, when Chris Narveson was available). 

Now, all three of those lefties are gone, and the Brewers will have to begin from scratch. They’ll probably have to do so via the free agent market, where there’s a solid crop of left-handers. Those options include Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell, and Tom Gorzelanny.

Choate would probably be the toughest guy to sign, because the Dodgers have expressed interest in bringing him back, and we all know the Dodgers are going to get whoever they want this offseason. I thought it was going to be the same situation for Burnett and the Nationals, but now that we know he’s not actually seeking a four-year deal (which would have been ridiculous), I see him as a possibility for the Brewers. Howell would also be decent, but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams; same goes for Gonzalez. Gorzelanny would be the easiest and cheapest option, but I see him as more of a lefty long reliever, which the Brewers might already have if they decide to move Narveson to the bullpen.

In my opinion, the best guy on that list is Burnett. Ever since 2009, he’s been one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. In 2012, he had a career year with the Nats, going 1-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 70 games (56 2/3 IP). He also had a 1.9 BB/9 and 9.1 K/9, which are exactly the stats you want to see out of a specialist like Burnett. My only concern regarding those numbers are they were far better than his career statistics in each of those categories- he has a career 3.6 BB/9 and 6.6 K/9, which leads to believe he could regress back to those numbers eventually. Regardless, Burnett is probably the best option on the list.

Burnett

There’s only one issue with the Brewers and the left-handed relief market: the Cardinals are also in dire need of a lefty reliever. Marc Rzepczynski flamed out under the pressure of being the only lefty reliever the Cards could rely upon in 2012. The Cardinals tried to fix that with minor leaguers Barret Browning and Sam Freeman, but neither of them really panned out, either. Hence, the Cards are also in the market for a lefty reliever.

It was reported the other day that Burnett came out and asked the Cardinals for a four-year deal, but his agent shot that down immediately (thank goodness). Still, that could mean the Cards also think Burnett is the best lefty available, so it could end up being a bidding war between them and the Brewers.

> When asked about the recent acquisition of Burke Badenhop, Doug Melvin called him a “young, cheaper Kameron Loe-type pitcher.”

I like the younger and cheaper part, but there was absolutely no need to insult the new guy right away. It’ll be tough for him to be as bad as Loe was.

> The Rockies are interested in another lefty reliever, Daniel Schlereth, who I almost forgot about. Schlereth hit the free agent market the other day after being non-tendered by the Tigers. He doesn’t have the greatest career numbers, but, if the other options thin out quickly, he could become a potential option himself.

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Greinke hammered as Garza dominates Crew

April 13, 2012

> Remember how in last night’s post I said that Zack Greinke had thrown two good games against the Cubs and one bad?

Well, he evened that ratio out today in the Brewers’ 8-0 loss to the Cubs. They still took three of four in the series, but this isn’t a good way to end it. After tossing seven shutout innings against the reigning World Champ Cardinals, Greinke got shelled by the Cubs, tagged for eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings. His ERA ballooned from 0.00 to 6.75, which is never good, especially if it happens in just one outing.

Greinke was solid the first two innings, as he retired the first six batters he faced. But, the third inning is when things started to fall apart, as the Cubs put up a six-spot on him. Since I was in school during most of the game, I didn’t get to see the third inning. But, judging by the replays I saw, everything looked up in the strike zone. That’s just asking for trouble against a free-swinging team like the Cubs.

But all we can hope for is that Greinke bounces back in his next start. We can’t have him being as inconsistent as he was during the first half of last year.

On the Brewers’ side, there was absolutely no offense. They were shut out on three hits (all singles), all given up by Matt Garza, who went 8 2/3 innings. He probably could have finished the game off, but, in the ninth, he fielded a Norichika Aoki comebacker. He wound up and threw to first base- minus the first base. The ball went sailing into the crowd, and, on one angle of the play shown, it was questionable whether or not he was even trying to throw to first. Anyway, Garza was taken out after that, but Shawn Camp got the final out.

> But back to Greinke. I forgot to mention this yesterday, but he and his new agent have decided to table talks about a contract extension for now. Greinke was probably feeling all high and mighty after that start against the Cards, but hopefully this start opened up his eyes a bit.

> Zach Braddock was once again placed onthe temporary inactive list today, a spot on the roster he visited a few times last year. It still apparently has something to do with his sleep disorder and personal issues, and Gord Ash still won’t say anything beyond that.

I’m really starting to wonder about Braddock, though. He looked extremely promising in 2010, posting a 2.93 ERA in 46 games. But I don’t know if he’ll ever reach that point again in the direction he’s headed.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will travel to Atlanta tomorrow (actually they’re probably already there) for a three-game set against the Braves. Here are the probable pitchers:

Randy Wolf (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Jair Jurrjens (0-1, 6.23 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (1-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Mike Minor (0-1, 10.80 ERA)

Chris Narveson (1-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Brandon Beachy (0-1, 1.80 ERA)

As you can see, Wolf is going tomorrow. He’s seen a lot of the Braves over his career, being a former Phillie. But he’s mightily struggled against them, with a 5-12 mark against the Braves with a 5.28 ERA.

Jurrjens, meanwhile, has had success against the Brewers in his career (2-1, 2.95 ERA against them). But he’s one of the more inconsistent pitchers in the game, especially since his injury in the middle of 2011.

> And that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Wolf gets hammered in loss to Reds

March 30, 2012

> The Reds were in their Brewers-murdering form from 2010 today, as the crushed the Crew, 9-3. Randy Wolf had has longest start of the spring, but got knocked around in the process. He gave up seven runs on 12 hits in seven innings, while striking out six. This ballooned his spring ERA to 4.78. Zach Braddock also pitched in the game, and was erratic, giving up two runs on a hit and two walks.

Cincinnati got on the board first with Juan Francisco’s solo homer in the second inning. They got two more runs in the third on Miguel Cairo’s RBI double and a Todd Frazier RBI single. The starting pitcher, hard-throwing lefty Aroldis Chapman, helped his own cause with an RBI double in the fourth. The Brewers would finally get on the board in the bottom of the fourth on George Kottaras’ two-RBI single.

But the Reds weren’t quite done. They had a three-run sixth inning, with RBIs coming from Ryan Hanigan, Paul Janish, and Wilson Valdez. They also got one more run in the ninth on Francisco’s sacrifice fly. The Brewers got one more run on a Martin Maldanado solo shot in the ninth, but couldn’t rally any more than that.

But here’s a funny incident from the game. Chapman’s first pitch of the game was apparently way outside, and flew to the backstop. This led to radio announcer Bob Uecker’s classic sarcastic line: “Just a little outside.” He doesn’t say it all that often anymore, but it’s still never gets old.

> The Brewers made a series of roster moves today. Unfortunately, they lost prospect Zelous Wheeler off waivers to the Orioles. I always had high hopes for that guy, but best of luck to him in Baltimore.

The Brewers also optioned Braddock, Taylor Green, and Maldanado to Triple-A Nashville. With Green optioned, that means Cesar Izturis is probably going to make the Opening Day roster- exactly what I’ve feared all spring. Anyways, the Brewers also placed Brandon Kintzler on the DL with right elbow inflammation, something he just hasn’t been able to get around for the past year or so.

With Braddock and Kintzler out of the mix, the chances for Tim Dillard and Manny Parra to make the bullpen out of camp have increased.

> And that’s about it. My Reviewing the Brew problems have continued- now I can’t log in. Maybe tomorrow… Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Back at it again…

January 4, 2012

> It’s been awhile. I don’t think I’ve posted in over two weeks, and my apologies for that. I was on winter break in Florida, which was heaven. Now, it’s back to Wisconsin, where I have to get used to a 60-degree change for the worse in weather. Anyway, BW should start up again on a regular basis after this.

> Not much happened while I was gone, as far as the Brewers are concerned. But, there a few minor things that I’ll go over.

> The Brewers added two peculiar players on Minor League deals with invitations to Spring Training- shortstop Cesar Izturis and reliever Juan Perez. Both have a shot at making the Major League club, but I also have my doubts about both.

You’ve probably heard of Izturis at some point. He’s played in the Majors for 11 years, spending time with Blue Jays, Dodgers, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, and, most recently, the Orioles. He was once considered a great defensive shortstop, winning the Gold Glove Award in 2004 with the Dodgers. He’s not at that level defensively anymore, but is still considered an above-average defender (and as long as he’s better than Yuniesky Betancourt, I’ll take it).

The only issue with Izturis  is his extremely weak bat. He has a career .255 average, which isn’t awful, but he has the lowest slugging percentage of an active player at just .322. Over his 11-year career, he only has 15 home runs, never hitting more than four in a season.

Anyway, if Izturis does end up making the Brewers out of Spring Training, he’d probably serve as a backup to the newly signed Alex Gonzalez.

Perez has played professionally for 12 years, but has only spent part of three seasons in the Majors- two with the Pirates, one with the Phillies, which was last year. He has a career 4.79 ERA, but put up a career low 3.60 ERA with the Phillies in 2011. That was in just five innings over eight games, however.

Perez has a good shot at making the Major League club, though, because the Brewers are still extremely low on left-handed relievers. The three on the roster with Major League experience- Zach Braddock, Manny Parra, and Mitch Stetter- all had injury-plagued years in 2011. Parra missed the entire year with elbow and back problems, Stetter couldn’t recover from a hip injury, and Braddock struggled with a social disorder. Because of all this, the Brewers spent the majority of the final months of the season with a right-handed dominant bullpen. So, Perez gives the Brewers a little left-handed depth in 2012.

> The Brewers shed a bit of light on the Norichiki Aoki situation. They won rights to sign him in mid-December, and have until January 17th to work out a deal, or Aoki returns to his Japanese team, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

It turns out negotiations with Aoki have started at around just $1.5 million, which shows the Brewers aren’t extremely interested in him. Aoki has speed and can hit for average, but his weak arm and not much power at the plate probably hold him at a reserve, or fourth, outfielder in the Majors. This shows why the Brewers started negotiations so low.

They plan to work him out at their Spring Training complex in Maryvale sometime within the next few weeks before making their final decision.

> Now, for the piece of news Brewers fans have been worrying about for a while now- the Ryan Braun story. Apparently, an MLB official with knowledge on how the whole appeal process works told Tom Haudricourt that he think the ruling won’t be overturned because of previous cases.

But, you have to take into account that the test results are “unlike any test results seen before,” so this guy’s opinion doesn’t really matter.

I’m still holding out hope that Braun can get this cleaned up and be ready for the start of the season. Because there is a first time for everything.

> One more thing Brewers-related- the Brewers have reportedly approached Zack Greinke about a contract extension. I don’t know if negotiations have even started yet, but this is a good sign, because the Brewers need both Greinke and Shaun Marcum extended by the time the season starts.

> And that’s about everything Brewers-related the took place while I was away. However, there was also some stirring around other teams in the NL Central.

> The Cardinals managed to sign outfielder Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal worth $26 million. That sort of helps fill the void Albert Pujols left, but not quite.

With Beltran, the Cardinals now have an outfield trio of Beltran, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday. Normally, this would be a scary trio to have in the lineup offensively, but none of them have very good injury history, so I’m not too worried at this point.

> The Reds and Cubs struck an in-division trade, with the Cubs sending reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds in exchange for three prospects- starter Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt, and second baseman Ronald Torreyes. In my opinion, the Cubs won this trade- the Reds have been giving up way more prospects then they’ve needed to over their past few trades. They also had to give up five prospects to acquire starter Mat Latos from the Padres a few weeks ago.

> The Marlins are reportedly closer to acquiring Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs. And here I thought they were having a productive offseason…

> And I think that’s about it. Before I go, I’d like to wish you all a late merry Christmas and a happy new year. Here’s to hoping for another good Brewers season in 2012. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers make a few announcements on first day of Meetings

December 6, 2011

> The first day of the Winter Meetings were highlighted by the Miami Marlins, as they officially announced their major signings of Heath Bell and Jose Reyes. The Brewers also made a few announcements, but nothing near the caliber of those top-tier free agents.

> Jerry Hairston Jr. won’t be returning to the Brewers. Earlier today, he signed a two-year deal with Dodgers.

Hairston hit .274 with the Brewers after being acquired from the Nationals at the Trade Deadline, and was a great fit with the Brewers. He filled in at second base while Rickie Weeks was injured, in center field while Carlos Gomez was injured, and at third base (particularly in the postseason) while Casey McGehee was slumping.

Hairston was also valuable in the postseason, hitting .333 and getting big hits when the Brewers needed it. However, he also made some defensive miscues that may have cost the Brewers a few games in the postseason.

> The Brewers announced that lefty reliever Zach Braddock is part of their future bullpen plans. Braddock missed most of 2011, but, when he did pitch, he wasn’t very effective, as he put up a 7.27 ERA in 25 games. He was hampered with disorders and personal issues all season as well, as he went on the disabled list two different times due to a sleeping disorder (which was based similarly to the disorder that Zack Greinke has). Then, while in the Minors, Braddock was placed on the inactive list for matters that the Brewers kept private. I’m kind of surprised that nothing about that leaked at all.

Anyway, Braddock has potential. In 2010, his rookie season, he put up a 2.94 ERA in 46 games. I’ll be satisfied if he can get back to that point, but that could take awhile.

> If Prince Fielder doesn’t re-sign with the Brewers, Weeks might slide down to the four-hole in the lineup, Ron Roenicke announced today.

This makes me shiver, just a bit.

Nothing against Weeks, but he’s more of a lead-off hitter, in my opinion. And we all saw how unproductive he was in the five-hole, but then again, that was a trend throughout everyone on the Brewers.

Weeks is going to need to become much more consistent for me to be comfortable with him in the four-hole. Primarily, he needs to bring his average up and strike out less.

But hopefully it doesn’t come to that. If the Brewers can somehow manage to sign Aramis Ramirez, he would slide perfectly into the four-hole behind Ryan Braun. If the Brewers can’t get a decent four-hole hitter and leave Braun in the three-hole, he’s going to be walked like crazy, being the reigning NL MVP.

> Unfortunately for the Brewers, the Phillies are actively pursuing Ramirez as well. If the Phillies are after him, odds are they’re going to get him.

> The Brewers are apparently interested in bringing back reliever Todd Coffey. I don’t know about this, since he’s just never been the same since that injury in 2010. But hey, I’d rather have him setting up than Kameron Loe.

On another reliever note, the Brewers have apparently displayed no interest in bringing back LaTroy Hawkins. Yes, let’s not bring back one of our most consistent relievers all year, right? I hope this changes.

> So at least there was some news today. There should be a lot of news this week, as the Winter Meetings will be going on for the next few days. Maybe we’ll see another top-tier free agents sign (hopefully with someone other than the Marlins).

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


As season winds down, Brewers make multitude of roster moves

October 26, 2011

It’s that time of year again. There’s only a maximum of two games left in the baseball season- possibly one, if the Rangers can finish off the Cardinals for the crown tomorrow.

But, every other team is looking onwards to next year- and that includes the Brewers. They made several roster moves earlier today to set the stage for this offseason, and the 2012 season.

First and foremost, pitcher Chris Narveson has undergone left-hip surgery, the Brewers announced earlier today. The odd thing is that we- the fans- were never told of a hip injury with Narveson. He was on the DL in late August and early September, but that was due to a freak accident in which he cut open his left hand.

Narveson went 11-8 with a 4.45 ERA in the regular season before being used out of the bullpen in the postseason. He struggled in the postseason, putting up an 11.05 ERA and giving up five home runs in just 7 1/3 innings, but Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash claims that the hip had nothing to do with that performance. Ash also said that the hip injury has been a chronic thing that Narveson has been dealing with for a few years now.

Anyway, onto the next moves. Infielder Josh Wilson and right-handed reliever Mark DiFelice have both been outrighted to Triple-A Nashville. Wilson served as a utility infielder for the Brewers after being acquired off waivers from the Diamondbacks early in the season. He played all four infield positions, and also made a few appearances in left field. At the plate, he hit .224 with two home runs and five RBI.

DiFelice was with the Brewers for a week in late June before being optioned back to Triple-A, and he put up a 12.00 ERA in just three innings of work. After being sent back down, he was plagued with shoulder problems that ruined any chance of him returning in 2011.

Brandon Kintzler has also been reinstated from the DL, and will attend the Arizona Fall League. Kintzler went on the DL on May 13, and had surgery in late July on a stress fracture in his right forearm. In 14 2/3 innings for the Brewers this year, he went 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA before going on the DL.

Lastly, Manny Parra and Mitch Stetter- two left-handers for the Brewers- have come off the DL as well. Parra didn’t pitch at all in 2011 because of several setbacks with his elbow and back, but will hopefully be ready for Spring Training 2012. And, I hate to say this, but if he has any more setbacks, I can’t see the Brewers being this patient with him anymore, and he’ll probably be let go. Hopefully he doesn’t have to endure anymore setbacks, though.

As for Stetter, he pitched seven innings for the Brewers this year before going on the DL, and put up a 5.14 ERA.

Oh, and the Brewers re-signed Minor League infielder Edwin Maysonet to a Minor League deal. He spent all year in the minors in 2011, and hit .290 while there. I don’t know much about this guy, but I’m going to guess he’s probably an Erick Almonte-type player- pretty much just a utility guy.

And I still haven’t heard anything about Zach Braddock, a lefty who was sent up and down and had multiple stints on the DL this year.

Anyway, last night I said I was going to write an article about Chris Carpenter today, bu, instead, I’m just going to give a brief explanation right here. I was going to call him out for using even more profanity last night after getting an out against the Rangers- yeah, the Brewers aren’t the only ones. I’m sorry, but he’s about as un-classy as it gets. After inducing a Mike Napoli fly-out to get out of a runners on first and third jam, he turned around to Napoli and cussed him out. I know some people are making a case that he was yelling to himself, but, after watching a replay this morning, you can clearly see he’s yelling at Napoli- he turned around and started screaming “F*** you!” with spit flying everywhere. But hey- that’s typical Chris Carpenter. I’m just saying you don’t see other aces- most of whom are class acts- such as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, or Justin Verlander, making reactions like that to getting outs.

Now, I don’t have an issue with a fist pump or maybe a “Hell yeah!” to yourself after getting a key out, but there’s absolutely no reason to turn to the player you just got out and start screaming profanity at him. There’s just no place in baseball for that.

And I know there are going to people comparing Carpenter yelling to the Brewers’ “Beast Mode” to attempt to counter this article- please, don’t even try. There’s a difference between yelling swears at your opponent, as opposed to just having fun.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Feel free to leave your thoughts below, and thanks much for reading.



Brewers were interested in lefty Gonzalez

September 2, 2011

Well, it turns out that the Brewers were interested in making an August trade. According to Brewers beat reporter Adam McCalvy and MLB Trade Rumors, the Brewers had been interested in left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez of the Orioles. The Rangers wound up acquiring Gonzalez, however.

Gonzalez put up solid numbers for the O’s this season, going 2-2 with a 4.27 ERA in 49 games (46 1/3 innings). I guess those aren’t great numbers for a reliever, but he was an assassin against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .211 average. But, righties have gotten some good swings off him, as they’re hitting .300 against Gonzalez.

The Brewers having been looking for a decent lefty out of the bullpen for quite sometime, but continue to come up empty. They were hoping to have three lefties in the ‘pen on opening day- Zach Braddock, Mitch Stetter, and Manny Parra. Parra pretty much immediately went down right when Spring Training started, and has been dealing with shoulder and back issues since. He won’t be pitching again this season due to a screw replacement in his elbow, but should be ready by Spring Training of 2012. Stetter was in the bullpen for the first part of the season, but he eventually went down with a hip injury that he’s struggled to come back from (probably because of his submarine delivery). He also recently underwent season-ending surgery. Then, there’s Braddock, but there are tons of question marks surrounding his situation. He dealt with a sleep disorder earlier this season that was based from a social anxiety disorder (similar to that of Zack Greinke’s), and that disorder would lead to two stints on the DL. When he returned from the second stint, he was just straight-up ineffective and couldn’t get anyone out. Braddock was then sent down because he was dealing with some personal issues, but assistant GM Gord Ash refused to talk about what they were. I don’t know if it has to do with his disorder or what, but I doubt he’ll be back in the Majors anytime soon. And that’s unfortunate, because I see a lot of talent in his arm.